Discover the Magic of the Desert
Among the dirt streets of this ancient town, the mysticism of ancestral cultures merges with modern tourism. San Pedro de Atacama is 102 km from Calama, land mainly of indigenous ethnic groups today dedicated to agriculture and tourism. In the old square is located his church, dating from 1774, which reveals the customs of its inhabitants: cactus skeleton, adobe and carob beams tied with leather. Nearby is the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, where you will be impressed with the mummies and everyday objects that reveal the richness of the cultures of the area. The town is full of craft stalls, where you can buy fabrics, jewelry or herbs, such as coca leaves, whose infusion can save you from the puna (or “altitude sickness”) if you plan to climb up to the Geysers of Tatio at 4,300 meters above sea level.
Departing by motorhome from San Pedro to the southeast, the shows continue: the town of Toconao, the Salar de Atacama and the Laguna Chaxa; home of flamingos and other highland birds. There are places that are better to travel at sunset, such as the Valley of the Moon or the Valley of Death. Only then do they offer beautiful shadows and changing colors, ideal for photography. The strange rock formations and the dunes of the Valley of the Moon, and the Cordillera de la Sal will be your best photos. At night, they are optimal places to contemplate the stars. To round off a day full of sensations, in San Pedro de Atacama you will find pubs and restaurants that will seduce you with excellent gastronomic proposals. Nightfall, what better to wait for the dream surrounded by stars and listening to the song of the owls.
Very early, the craters of El Tatio, a geothermal field that attracts hundreds of visits throughout the year, despite being located at 4,200 meters. If you come to San Pedro de Atacama, there will be no tomorrow like the one you will pass in El Tatio, with the sun’s rays passing through the white columns of steam emanating from the geysers. A wonder in the Andes Mountains that, to see it, you have to get up early. The best time for fumaroles is between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning. Therefore, whether you travel on your own or on a tour, the rule is to leave San Pedro de Atacama at about 5:00 am. But the wonder of the landscape does not end there; while the sun rises, the vicuñas, vizcachas, ñandúes and other birds move between the llaretas, giant cacti and wild straw. And for the return, there is a prize: you can go through the Puritama hot springs, surrounded by greenery and with comfortable wooden walkways that join the different wells.